Troy Kotsur is an American actor and film and stage director who is known for starring in the Deaf West Theatre’s theatrical production ‘Cyrano’ (2012), the indie drama film ‘Wild Prairie Rose’ (2016), and the French-American film CODA (2021). On March 27, 2022, he won an Academy Award in the category of “Best Actor in a Supporting Role,” becoming the first male deaf actor to win an Oscar. The New York Times
Troy Michael Kotsur Wrestling Junkies was born on Wednesday, July 24, 1968 (age 53 years; as of 2021), and he hails from Mesa, Arizona. His hearing impairment was discovered by his parents when he was 9 months old. In an interview, while talking about how his mother discovered his deafness, he said,
I was in the crib when my mother spoke behind me but I didn’t respond…She came back with two pans from the kitchen. She banged real loud but I still didn’t hear.”
Consequently, his hearing parents took American Sign Language (ASL) classes to aid their son to develop communication skills. At the age of eight, he came across the American epic space film ‘Star Wars,’ which developed his interest in cinema. Enchanted by the visuals, Kotsur went on to view the film over 28 times. In an interview, while talking about Star Wars, he said,
It was so visual, the costumes, it just blew me away. I watched it again and again. And it got me hoping that someday I could make a movie.”
Growing up as the only deaf in his family, he attended Phoenix Day School for the Deaf in Phoenix, Arizona. Unfortunately, the school lacked a theatre department. Therefore, he enrolled in Westwood High School, Mesa, during his sophomore year, where his journey as an actor began when he performed a pantomime skit. It was his drama teacher, Jay Jones, who first encouraged him to take to the stage. Although Kotsur was unable to listen to the standing ovation he received after the pantomime skit, watching it fueled his passion for acting. Besides participating in plays, Kotsur spent his high school days playing varsity basketball. Before moving to Washington, D.C. in 1987, where he studied theatre, television, and film at Gallaudet University, Kotsur interned at KTSP-TV shortly. Golden Globe Awards In 1989, he quit the course after securing a job at the National Theater of the Deaf (NTID).
Height (approx.): 6′
Hair Color: Salt & Pepper
Eye Color: Hazel Green
Parents & Siblings
Troy Kotsur’s father, Leonard Stephen Kotsur (nicknamed Len), was a police chief in Mesa; he died in 2001. When Troy Kotsur was 17, his father encountered a car crash. Although Len survived, he became paralyzed from the neck down. As Len could no more use ASL to communicate with Troy, a communication gap arose between the father and son.
His mother, JoDee Louise True, worked as a tailor; she died in 2000. Troy had a younger brother named Brett Kotsur, who drowned in their backyard swimming pool at the age of just four. Brett was revived after staying underwater for almost forty minutes, which led to his severe brain damage and dysfunctionality. Thereafter, Brett was on a ventilator for the rest of his life and died at the age of 21.
He has two older brothers, Kevin Kotsur and Brian Kotsur. While Kevin Kotsur works as assistant chief of police in Avondale, Brian Kotsur works at the Mesa Fire and Medical Department.
Wife & Children
On September 1, 2001, Troy Kotsur got married to Deanne Bray, an American actress popular for her title role in PAX TV’s Canadian-American TV series ‘Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye’ from 2002 to 2005.
The couple first met during the summer of 1993 in Chester, Connecticut at NTID. They started dating in February 1997. Unlike Troy and Deanne, their daughter, Kyra Monique Kotsur, is not deaf. An upcoming actor, Kyra starred as Jule in the 2018 theatrical production ‘Arrival & Departure.’
After completing high school, Kotsur pursued an internship at the TV station KTSP-TV (now KSAZ-TV) as an editor. The job of an editor disconnected him from people as he quietly sat in the editing room for hours just focusing on his work. To break the monotony, he decided to pursue his childhood dream of becoming an actor. While talking about his initial struggles in the entertainment industry, he said,
During auditions, I would generally never get the role because most of the time they would ask, “Can you speak?” And of course another actor could speak better than I could, since I’m completely deaf and that can be a challenge… I was doing it the old-fashioned way back in the ’90s: I had to buy $300 worth of envelopes and stamps and send these headshots to 300 different casting directors, and out of that, I may get one audition.”
During his course at Gallaudet University, he secured a job with the NTID’s touring company, Sunshine Too.
From 1990 to 1991, he toured with NTID’s ASL adaptation of the play ‘Treasure Island.’ After touring with the NTID’s theatrical production ‘Ophelia’ from 1991 to 1992, Kotsur joined Deaf West Theatre, Los Angeles, in 1994. He worked alongside American Deaf artist Chuck Baird in Lyle Kessler’s play ‘Orphans’ (1997).
Thereafter, he appeared in ASL adaptations of various theatrical productions like ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ as Stanley, ‘Of Mice and Men’ as Lenny, and ‘True West’ as Lee.’ He came into the limelight in 2011 when he starred in the musical play ‘Big River’ based on Mark Twain’s novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” First staged at the American Airlines Theater in New York City, the broadway show featured a combination of hearing and signing actors to portray each role. In the play, Kotsur played the signing role of Huckleberry Finn’s drunkard father, Pap, alongside the hearing American actor Lyle Kanouse.
In 2012, he played the titular role in Deaf West Theatre’s ASL adaptation of Stephen Sachs’ theatrical production ‘Cyrano.’ The follows the brilliant deaf poet Cyrano who is in love with Roxy, a beautiful hearing woman. In the play, Roxy doesn’t understand sign language and desires Chris, Cyrano’s hearing brother. For his role as Cyrano, he was nominated for an Ovation Award (Los Angeles’s counterpart of Broadway’s Tony Award) in the category of Best Lead Actor in a Play.
His role as Teach in the play ‘American Buffalo’ earned him a nomination for the 2015 LA Drama Critics Circle Award. In 2017, he appeared in various Deaf West Theatre theatrical productions like Our Town, American Buffalo, and Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo. In 2018, he collaborated with his wife, Deanne Bray, for the romantic play ‘Arrival & Departure’ by Stephen Sachs. The play centers around two already-married strangers who innocently tumble into a relationship.
Troy Kotsur made his film debut with the American thriller film ‘The Number 23’ (2007) in which he played the role of Barnaby.
After being featured in ‘See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary’ (2009), he appeared in the indie drama film ‘Wild Prairie Rose’ as James Hansen. Set in 1952, the film centers around a woman, Rose, who returns to her rural hometown to care for her ailing mother, where she falls in love with a deaf man, James, and must decide if she dares to follow her heart.
Troy Kotsur struck international stardom in 2022 when he won an Oscar for his role as Frank Rossi in the 2021 French-American coming-of-age film ‘CODA’ (2021). In the comedy-drama film, Frank is a fisherman and the deaf father of a hearing teenage daughter, who aspires to become a singer.
He made his directional debut with the 2013 American drama film ‘No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie,’ which premiered at the Heartland Film Festival. In the film, Tony Kane, a deaf actor who plays a superhero on TV, helps an eight-year-old boy Jacob who is bullied at school.
As a stage director at Deaf West Theatre, Kotsur has directed ASL adaptations of various plays like Aladdin And The Wonderful Lamp, Eye, Aesop Who?, The Giving Tree, Three Musketeers, Lone Star, and Where’s the Cross?.
Kotsur appeared in the short film Father’s Day Breakfast (2017) in which he played the role of Stephen, a deaf father of his hearing son, Michael, who struggles to showcase his love and care.
Kotsur made his television debut in 2001 with the American medical drama ‘Strong Medicine’ in which he played the role of Lars in an episode titled “Fix.”
Kotsur gained popularity with the Canadian- American TV series ‘Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye’ for his recurring role of Troy Myers in the show from 2002 to 2005. In the show, Troy Myers is a deaf car thief and a longtime informant of the protagonist, Sue Thomas who communicates via ASL.
Other acting credits under his belt include the American TV series Doc (2003), CSI: NY (2006), and Scrubs (2007). In 2012, he made an appearance in the American police procedural crime drama ‘Criminal Minds’ in an episode titled “The Silencer.” In the episode, he played the role of an escaped inmate named John Myers, who sews his victims’ mouths.
A passionate fan of the film trilogy Star Wars, Kotsur’s childhood dream came true after being cast in the Star Wars franchise’s live-action TV series ‘The Mandalorian’ (2019). Kotsur is the first deaf actor to appear in a Star Wars production. In the series, he played the role of a Tusken Raider from a tribe of nomads on the planet Tatooine. He also developed a fictional sign language for the Tuskens.
For the Film ‘CODA’ (2021)
- Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role at Academy Awards (2022)
- Best Supporting Actor at BAFTA Awards (2022)
- Best Movie Supporting Actor at Critics’ Choice Awards (2022)
- Outstanding Film Supporting Performance at Gotham Awards (2021)
- Best Supporting Male in a Feature Film at Independent Spirit Awards (2021)
- ‘Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role’ and ‘Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture’ at Screen Actors Guild Awards (2022)
- An award in the category of ‘Lead Performance’ by Los Angeles Drama Circle Critics in 2012 for the play ‘Cyrano’
- Legacy Award at 2016 Heartland Film Festival
- Cartoon: Tom & Jerry
- Film Series: Star Wars
- Film(s): Jaws’ (1975) and ‘E.T’ (1982)
- A historical step was taken by the production team of the TV show ‘Criminal Minds’ when it took the extraordinary step of rewriting a character in an episode of the show solely so they could hire a deaf actor. The role was changed from a hearing role to a deaf role hire Kotsur. Apparently, the Criminal Minds casting director was fascinated by Kotsur’s performance in the hit theatrical production ‘Cyrano,’ staged at the Fountain Theatre, Los Angeles. Thereafter, the casting director convinced the TV team to change the role in the upcoming episode from a hearing character to a deaf character and hired Kotsur.
- Sian Heder, the director of the film CODA, cast Kotsur after being impressed by his performances in Deaf West Theatre’s plays ‘Our Town’ and ‘Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo.’ In the film, Kotsur’s wife’s role was played by Marlee Matlin, who became the first deaf actress to win an Academy Award in 1987 for the American romantic drama film ‘Children of a Lesser God’ (1986).
- Kotsur is an avid dog lover who posts various pictures with his pet dog named Stella on his Instagram account.
- He follows a non-vegetarian diet.
- In a Facebook post, Deanne Bray wished Kotsur on their wedding anniversary and shared the fact that she got married to him twice, first in September 2001 and then in November 2001.